Crab King now open in Tacoma where Outback Steakhouse recently closed
Tacoma’s newest seafood boil restaurant – Crab King – is open, and more seafood boil places are on the way in the Tacoma area. Read to the end of the story for info on the other new openings.
Crab King Cajun Boil and Bar opened last week inside the former Outback Steakhouse in Tacoma at 3111 S. 38th St. Here’s a first-bite look at what you’ll find on a visit.
DINING ROOM: The sprawling restaurant seats about 200. The decor shifted slightly with the addition of sea floats, ropes and nets, murals of cutesy underwater scenes and a general “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea” vibe that’s fun and family-friendly.
EQUIPMENT: Metal trays, which double as your plate, show up filled with forks, spoons, plastic shell pickers/rippers and industrial-strength crab crackers. A plastic bib unfolds to reveal packaged wet wipes and plastic gloves. You’ll need all of the above.
DON’T DRESS NICE: It’s a get-your-hands-dirty experience, so don’t wear anything requiring dry cleaning. Wear the bib. Who cares what you look like, you don’t want garlic butter all over your shirt.
FOR NEWBS: Here’s a quick Cajun Boil 101. The core menu is seafood that’s boiled in spices and sauces. You select from a list of sauces and seasonings, then you pick your heat level. The seafood is boiled in a giant plastic bag with the seasoning/sauce mix you choose, then it’s plopped in a bowl and brought to the table. Untie the bag and dig in using all the accessories. Discard shells in the plastic-lined bucket on the table. Don’t forget to use a bib. It gets messy. Use the crab crackers on the shells. Use the plastic red picker to unfurl shrimp shells. Enjoy.
SEAFOOD BOIL MENU: Find 10 choices on the core menu, plus ask your server for specials. Order seafood by the pound and it comes in your choice of sauce/seasoning/spice, plus a hunk of corn on the cob and a potato. The opening menu listed clams ($11.99), black mussels ($11.99), crawfish ($14.99), green mussels ($14.99), shrimp ($17.99 head on/$20.99 head off), Dungeness crab leg ($19.99), 2-piece lobster tail ($28.99), snow crab leg ($35.99) and King crab leg ($65.99).
SEAFOOD COMBOS: Three combos are for big eaters or groups. The $52 Hangry combo comes with three pounds of seafood (you choose from a list), plus three each of corn, potatoes and sausage. The $70 Very Hangry combo comes with a choice of snow crab or lobster, then three choices of seafood from a list, plus four each of corn, potatoes and sausage. The $125 Hangry Feast is built for a party with a choice of premium seafood, plus four pounds of seafood and five corns, potatoes and sausages. Combos are the way to go if dining with three or more.
APPETIZERS: Chicken wings ($8.99/$12.99), cheese sticks ($7.50), fries ($3.99/$4.99), hush puppies ($5.99) and more.
PASTA/FRIED FISH: Cajun pasta served plain or with shrimp, sausage, chicken ($13-$17), plus fried shrimp ($14), fried catfish ($16) and more.
SAUCES/SEASONINGS: Traditional Cajun, garlic butter, lemon garlic and butter only. Or, get them “shake” style and get the Cajun, garlic butter and lemon garlic seasoning all in one.
SPICING LEVELS: Manager Jay Zheng told me in September, “You can have any spice level from mild to super spicy. We have top level of spice and mild ingredients, hot and super hot. Any favorites they choose They’ll have four levels to choose from.” I’d call the spicing accurate. I ordered medium and felt long lasting sting.
BOOZE: It’s coming soon. Honestly, I waited a week to visit because I was hoping the cocktail menu would be available. The restaurant is hoping for its liquor license approval this week, but can’t be certain when it will be approved. Expect an assortment of beer and a cocktail menu.
ON A FIRST TRIP: Bring two friends and dig into the $70 Very Hangry combo, which probably could have fed four easily. Sunk deep into the bowl were four each of the corn, potatoes and thick-sliced smoked sausage with a kick of heat. We selected crawfish, head-off shrimp and clams for our trio of seafood and were rewarded with snappy-sweet shrimp with easy-peel shells. Clams were bouncy and fresh under all that sauce. Crawfish were much bigger than what I’ve had locally at our other boil restaurants. Snow crab was served in a generous cluster plopped on top. Garlic butter is always my go-to sauce on a first visit to a Cajun boil restaurant.
THOSE SHALLOW BOWLS: Zheng told me they chose shallow bowls to hold the boil for easier eating. “It’s easier to reach into,” said Zheng. I’m not sure I agree. Likely because I ordered a large combo, it was tough to reach into the bottom where the potatoes, corn and sausage were hiding because the narrow plastic bag that held the entire boil inside the bowl wouldn’t yield for easy navigation to the bottom. We ended up ripping the bag to get to the stuff at the bottom. That led to a minor table spill of broth. The overly crowded bowl/bag could have been because we ordered the Very Hangry, a large combo with a lot of seafood. Your experience with a pound of seafood in that bowl might vary.
PLASTIC HATERS: You might be bothered by the amount of plastic waste at this restaurant: Plastic gloves, double plastic bags on the discard buckets, your food is boiled in plastic, etc.
ACCESSIBILITY: No barriers noted, large doors at entry. Plenty of low-top tables for easy sitting or rolling up to.
CRAB KING CAJUN BOIL AND BAR
Contact info: 3111 S. 38th St., Tacoma; 253-301-1688
WANT TO EXPLORE MORE BOIL? Check out Dragon’s Crawfish in Tacoma’s Lincoln District, Cravin’ Crawfish on Tacoma Mall Boulevard, Captain Crab in Lakewood and Boiling Crawfish in Puyallup’s South Hill. Read more at this story, scroll to the end for the list with details.
KRAB KINGZ ALSO OPENING
Fast-casual seafood boil restaurant Krab Kingz also plans to open this year. The restaurant has multiple locations in Texas and elsewhere. This is a first for Washington state. The owners have a connection to the area. It will open in Parkland. It offers a more fast-casual restaurant experience with counter ordering and quick service. Read more at this link.
CAPTAIN CRAB EXPANDING
Lakewood’s Captain Crab is expanding into the AAA Buffet space next door, said manager Coco Teng. I’ll share more details when I get them. Read my first-bite report from when Captain Crab in Lakewood opened in October 2020.